Aurora proves it is here to stay after overcoming challenges to remain the largest employer in the Interlake.
Gimli, Manitoba – Aurora Recovery Centre, a private addiction treatment facility 45 minutes north of Winnipeg, first opened its doors back on June 1, 2016. In the years before that, the former Misty Lake Lodge was in derelict condition and in need of major repairs. Investing millions of dollars over a multi-year period, Aurora became a brand new, world-class facility.
Owner Paul Melnuk reminisces, “The tremendous amount of work that had to be done was simply amazing. It was not easy, or cheap, to create a facility specifically for people suffering from addiction. Full-service addiction centres are lacking in Manitoba. By full-service, I mean facilities that address both addiction and mental health, physical health, nutritional health, and spiritual health.”
As with many businesses, Aurora had to overcome significant obstacles. A few residents living near the property had some initial concerns about what an addiction treatment centre would mean for them. However, much of the town’s population welcomed the business as it would go on to be the largest employer in the area, creating high-paying jobs and significantly contributing to the region’s tax base.
“We employ many types of positions from maintenance and kitchen staff to certified counsellors, therapists, nurses and other medical and clinical staff, to an array of administration roles. Several of our staff have chosen to move to and live permanently in the Interlake Region. To be a centre of excellence, we need to have excellent people in place in close proximity to our centre,” continues Paul Melnuk.
As Aurora enters its fifth year, it has positioned itself to maintain and improve its reputation as a world-class centre. Aurora identified that it needed the expertise and experience of an industry heavyweight. Steve Low, Aurora’s new COO, brings over thirty years of that in the international addiction and recovery management field.
“After working in other addiction centres around Canada for the last thirty years, I immediately recognized the potential Aurora has, and to move from Victoria (British Columbia) to Gimli (Manitoba) is a testament to that,” states Steve Low.
The addiction and mental health field is always evolving and validating research to introduce the latest programs and processes. Mr. Low has started to implement changes within Aurora, such as moving away from setting dates for treatment lengths and towards open-ended treatment.
Changing the narrative at Aurora is another focus. Many addiction facilities focus on distinct levels of care, in terms of going from one level of the treatment process to the next. Steve Low believes that the best results happen when the levels of care are regarded as points along a continuum of care – that Aurora members will go through its treatment program and as opposed to being admitted to it.
In that continuum of care, Aurora is designing recovery orientated systems of care that include partnerships with other agencies, resources, and recovery communities.
Workplace psychological health and safety is a major focus as well, with COVID-19 changing the way businesses operate and interact. Aurora is working with business and industry to enhance the level of care employees receive.
Aurora will revamp its family education program, as well. Research around active family participation in their loved one’s recovery, and teaching the family about addiction, is conclusive in finding that recovery success rates are significantly higher when families are more involved.
“Four years for a business is still young. To remain competitive and to provide the best care possible, Aurora needs to be continually adapting and improving. For the last four years, our employees have poured their hearts and souls into working with individuals suffering from addiction every day and have built a solid foundation from which we can now use to broaden our services.”